Border restrictions give Canadian barrel racers unexpected opportunity to compete in Calgary Stampede

CALGARY — The Calgary Stampede will be missing some of the top American barrel racers at this year’s unconventional Stampede, which means an opportunity for five Alberta cowgirls.

Border restrictions and the fact the money they earn in Calgary won’t go towards the world standings (helping them qualify for the National Finals Rodeo) is keeping some Americans south of the border this year.

But that doesn’t mean the Stampede is over a barrel.  Instead of American hotshots, the Stampede is filling open spots with Canadian barrel racers.

100 COWGIRLS TRY TO QUALIFY

The list isn’t out yet but it’s expected well over 100 cowgirls will head to Innisfail this weekend to try and qualify for the Stampede.

19-year-old Bradi Whiteside will be one of them. She grew up on a ranch near High River and has always been around horses. 

She said it’s always been her dream to compete at the Calgary Stampede.

“I’ve always wanted to compete with those girls.  Being able to compete with them would be so cool.”

Whiteside will hook up her horse Sis and try to get around the barrels as fast as she can in Innisfail. 

Only five will qualify for the Stampede so she knows she’ll have to be on top of her game.

“A lot of good people and there’s going to be so many good horses run there and everybody has the same idea in mind.” she told CTV.

“They want to be at Calgary at the end of it.  Yeah it’s going to be huge and it’s not going to be easy.  It’s going to be tough.”

Bradi’s sister Kylie is also heading to Innisfail for the qualifier.  The 21-year-old raced at the Calgary Stampede in 2019 and said it was a huge thrill for her.

“I would be so excited to go back again,” she said.

“It was definitely one of my favourite rodeos to compete at.  Just the atmosphere, it was super fun.”

Kylie would love to compete against her sister at the Stampede.  She said it would be cool to have the two of them there at the same time.

“It would be pretty special to run with your sister,” Kylie said.

“We get to rodeo all year round but to run at a rodeo like that together would be even more special and fun.”

Competing in Calgary is nothing new to the Whitesides.  Their father Travis qualified multiple times at the greatest outdoor show on earth in the bareback.

Bradi said she’d love to add her name to the list.

“I mean it would be a huge opportunity after watching my sister and my dad compete there.  My sister competed there when they had it last (2019) and my dad when I was a little girl.  Such a great rodeo.  The best that there is.”

Qualifying in Innisfail will run on Sunday and Monday.

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